As 2019 draws to a close, we’re looking back on some of the events that made it memorable. We’ve rounded up this year’s funniest, most important, and most controversial stories, as well as homages to some of the people we lost.
Fast food, sci-fi, and sex toys—2019 had it all. Whether it’s Kanye West designing affordable housing (only to have the prototypes written up), Comedy Central dropping the truth on the architect’s ego, or a Taco Bell themed hotel popping up in California, it was an interesting year to say the least. Laugh (or groan or cry) your way through the most lol-worthy stories of the year.
The Bell, a pop-up, Taco Bell-branded vacation experience in Palm Springs, California, that promised guests Baja Blasts in bed, drew Crunchwrap Supreme fans from around the country and sold out its pilot summer season in minutes. Guests could cuddle up with a Fire! Sauce shaped pillow or pool float, wake up to the beautiful sight of a Beefy 5-Layer Burrito, and fill up on taco-themed merch in the gift shop. In other words, Live Más.
Kanye West’s Star Wars–inspired, dome-shaped affordable housing prototypes were demolished after Los Angeles County officials found that West had failed to obtain the proper permit for the structures (they used concrete foundations, rendering them more than temporary structures in the eyes of the law). Thus ended this unexpected chapter of L.A.’s architectural history—until the sequel, at least.
Design firm Wolfgang & Hite satirized Hudson Yards—the much-maligned New York City megadevelopment that opened in March—by turning some of its buildings into hot pink silicone sex toys. As the firm put it: “Sex does the body good. After the fiery criticisms of Hudson Yards this year, we thought city officials might need a healthy outlet for working through some of that guilt.” LuXXXury real estate experience, indeed.
Not everyone hates Hudson Yards—TIME named The Shed, the development’s transformable art space, one of the World’s Greatest Places for 2019. But The Shed’s moveable walls (one of the highlights of the $485 million complex) aren’t winning many fans: Because of misaligned hardware, some don’t work. Whoops!
We’ve all met that guy—maybe he was your boss at your first architectural internship or your most loathed professor in undergrad who handed you a crumpled piece of paper and told you to model it in Revit. The Comedy Central sketch show Alternatino with Arturo Castro got it right in a July episode that parodied architecture clichés. In Gerhardt Fjuck, a decorated designer, all the tropes—and the ego—of the pretentious architect were on full display, right down to the glasses.